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Slideshow

Project Outcomes

Our research team partnered with seven rural Georgia county sheriffs’ offices to examine data on jail bookings between January 2019 and June 2020 to understand jail incarceration trends, including why numbers have grown in recent years. The fact sheets presented below (click images to download) provide information related to the charges for people entering these rural jails, the length of their stays, and other information such as demographic characteristics and bond amounts as available. These fact sheets can be used to learn more about local jail incarceration and talk about potential options for changes in policy and local communities. You can also read the Vera Institute's state-level policy brief based on our findings here.

The local jail data are supplemented by historical data from the Vera Institute of Justice Incarceration Trends Dataset, available on GitHub, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Jails, 2005-2019 Statistical Tables available here.

Overall Key Findings

GA findings
Click image to download  summary

Across all seven rural counties:

  • Motor vehicle or traffic-related charges were the most frequent charges, often due to unpaid fines stemming from license suspensions rather than dangerous driving
  • 56% of people booked were African American
  • 23% of people booked were women
  • Monthly bookings dropped by 30 during the first four months of 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but rebounded in mid-2020
  • Data are not consistent, including charge language, data elements, and electronic record management systems, often making comparisons difficult

Decatur County

Decatur
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Top Findings

  • Most frequent charges were traffic or motor-vehicle related (23%), probation or parole violations (17%), and drug-related (10%)
  • 56% of people booked were African American as compared to 43% of the county population
  • Women made up nearly one-quarter of all bookings
  • Average length of stay for probation or parole violations was 52 days
  • Bookings decreased by 24% at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but increased in mid-2020

Early County

Early County
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Top Findings

  • Most charges were traffic or motor vehicle-related (28%), drug-related (11%), and charges related to parents’ failure to enroll or ensure attendance of children in school (10%)
  • Nearly half (47%) of all people booked into the jail were denied bond or their initial bond was revoked
  • People in jail without bond were most commonly held for traffic or motor vehicle-related charges (23%), drug-related charges (23%), or assault/battery charges (6%)
  • Bookings dropped by 45% at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but increased by mid-2020

Greene County

Greene County
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Top Findings

  • Nearly 40% of people booked between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 were charge with traffic or motor-vehicle related charges
  • African Americans were over-represented in jail bookings (64%) as compared to the Green County population (31%)
  • Women made up nearly one-fifth of jail bookings
  • 34% of all people booked were denied bond or had bond revoked
  • During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic bookings dropped by 25% at the beginning of the pandemic. Bookings rose again by mid-2020.

Habersham County

Habersham County
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Top Findings

  • Most booking charges were for traffic or motor vehicle-related charges (38%), drug-related (15%) and probation or parole violations (8%)
  • Median length of stay for controlled substance charges was five days and six days for not complying with court-imposed conditions (e.g., failure to appear)
  • About one-quarter of all bookings were young adults between the ages of 17 and 28 years old
  • During the first four months of 2020, jail bookings decreased by 24% but increased again by mid-2020

Sumter County

Sumter County
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Top Findings

  • Most common charge categories were traffic or motor vehicle-related (20%), probation or parole violations (17%), and assault/battery (9%)
  • The average length of stay for probation or parole violations was 59 days
  • 51% of people booked were held without bond or had their bond revoked
  • African Americans were over-represented in the jail (72%) as compared to the Sumter County population (51%)
  • Women made up one-quarter of all jail bookings
  • During the first four months of 2020, bookings dropped by 34% but increased again by mid-2020

Towns County

Towns County
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Top Findings

  • Most booking charges were traffic or motor vehicle-related (37%), drug-related (31%) and probation or parole violations (10%)
  • About 40% of people booked were denied bond or had their bond revoked
  • Most common charges denied bond were drug-related (31%)
  • Women made up nearly one-third of all bookings
  • African Americans were over-represented in the jail at more than three times their presence in the county population
  • Bookings dropped by 22% at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but increased again by mid-2020

Treutlen County

Treutlen County
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Top Findings

  • Most booking charges were traffic or motor vehicle-related (41%), drug-related (27%) and probation or parole violations (9%)
  • African Americans were over-represented in jail bookings at 1.5 times their percentage in the county population
  • Women made up about one-quarter of all bookings
  • Bookings fell by 49% at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but increased again by mid-2020